Calgary

Rejected candidate accuses premier's office of meddling

An ousted Conservative candidate is accusing the Alberta premier's office of working secretly against his nomination in Calgary-Egmont.

An ousted Conservative candidate is accusing the Alberta premier's office of working secretly against his nomination in Calgary-Egmont.

Craig Chandler said an e-mail he received from a newspaper columnist proves Premier Ed Stelmach's office was actively campaigning to ensure a rival candidate was elected as the Conservative representative in the southeast riding.

Chandler, a radio host who has had to apologize publicly for anti-gay remarks, won the nomination in November but the Alberta Tories rejected his candidacy last weekend.

On Tuesday, Chandler showed CBC News an e-mail written to him by Calgary Sun columnist Paul Jackson.

Jackson is seen on a video featured on Chandler's website saying, "We need Craig Chandler and people like him in politics and in elected office."

But the columnist also wrote two separate articles leading up to the nomination vote supporting Chandler's rival Jonathan Denis.

The e-mail to Chandler dated Oct. 22 reads: "Sorry about how things have turned out. I got an urgent call from the Premier's Office asking me to back Jonathan. What else could I do?"

Chandler said the e-mail proves Stelmach's office was trying to meddle with the outcome in Calgary-Egmont.

"You look at the words of Paul Jackson says there, 'What else could I do?' He could have kept his word. He was obviously under great duress."

Stelmach's communication director said he canvassed staff in the premier's office and found no one had called Jackson. On Tuesday, the premier brushed aside the accusation.

"The candidate had a fair hearing and the matter has been settled," Stelmach said in Edmonton.

The columnist did not deny writing the e-mail but told CBC News he now believes the call was a prank and did not come from the premier's office.

Jackson also called his endorsement on Chandler's website embarrassing and said it was taken out of context.

Chandler said he's being courted by the Wild Rose and Alberta Alliance parties, but he has not ruled out running as an Independent in the next provincial election.

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